You are quite correct - there’s usually maybe only ~20% of players who ever try making anything in a maker-type game at all, and less than 5% actually continue to engage with the tools and create content for others to play with. “Most of the audience” definitely qualifies as not really engaging with the tools.
The number of creators who engage in content creation, however small relative to the total number of players they may be, is probably still going to dwarf the size of the game’s entire development team several times over. If you consider a game like Mario Maker might sell 500,000 copies. If even 1% of that player base regularly creates content, that’s 5,000 level designers with a broad variety of ideas and interests working on content for players to play. 5,000 people is going to be at least one, probably two orders of magnitude greater than the number of designers on the dev team for a maker game.
Further, these amateur designers also aren’t constrained by the same set of rules we are - it’s ok if their levels are unintuitive, super difficult to complete, don’t have a solid throughline, are off-the-wall wacky, auto-play themselves, or are just strange. These kind of levels are something that the pros don’t really get the opportunity to build at work, but we very much appreciate when the community builds them.
I’ve said before that games get more hours of play testing within the first day of launch than they do during their entire development periods. This applies to user generated content too. Unless the game flops horribly, the player base will always dwarf the size of the dev team many times over.
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